More than half of nurses believe that financial issues have caused increasing health problems for their patients over the last six months, according to a snapshot survey.
A survey of health professionals found that nine in 10 nurses who responded held back from having financial wellbeing conversations as they worry about ‘causing embarrassment’ or ‘not having the answers’.
The research, conducted by the NHS-commissioned Personalised Care Institute (PCI) and the Money and Pensions Service, found that 57% of the 180 nurses surveyed believed money problems have caused more health issues in the last six months.
And almost half (47%) of the nurses surveyed reported an increase in the number of patients talking to them about money within the same time period.
Despite 78% stating that supporting patients with money issues earlier might prevent further health issues later on, 89% of those respondents said they felt unequipped to have these conversations.
Associate chief nursing officer at Wye Valley NHS Trust and PCI ambassador, Rachael Hebbert, said that it was ‘vitally important’ to care for patients holistically using a ‘personalised care approach’.
‘With the current cost-of-living crisis, very often what matters to them is being able to pay energy bills and afford food, and this has a significant negative effect on their wellbeing, both psychologically and physically,’ said Ms Hebbert.
However, she admitted that she too ‘often felt uncomfortable when talking about money matters as I’m certainly no expert’.
Nurses said they felt unable to discuss money with patients for a variety of reasons, with ‘feeling it’s not their place’ being the most commonly cited issue (37%).
A further 36% said they felt ‘fear of causing embarrassment’ was a barrier and 22% cited ‘worrying they won’t have the answers’.
In response to the survey’s findings, the PCI and Money and Pensions Service have jointly launched the Money Talk Toolkit, a collection of free training and resources on how to discuss finances with patients.
The kit includes information on how to begin the conversation, how to signpost patients to effective support, and what information to provide.
Clinical director for the PCI, Dr Emma Hyde, said: ‘Nurses and other health and care professionals are seeing first-hand how financial wellbeing impacts on health.
‘Health and care professionals are regularly found to be among the “most trusted” members of our society and the NHS is our most trusted institution, so who better to sensitively raise the issue of financial wellbeing with patients in order to optimise health.’